Experts in robotics research and development gathered last week to make an important point about their technology: Robots are not a threat to employment. In fact, they will create thousands of jobs in the coming years in a variety of industries.

Seegrid’s Chief Operating Officer, Mitchell Weiss, was one of the presenters appearing before the Congressional Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee to discuss ways to harness robotic technology for job creation.

Weiss had a favorable overall impression of the meeting. “We got some direct, important questions,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that people are looking at robots for the obvious things, the defense applications and the manufacturing applications, but I don’t think they have an understanding of where the technology is taking us.”

In his presentation, Weiss explained that while the manufacturing efficiencies associated with robotics are important, the technology is really about operating efficiencies. He noted that robots enable growth in all kinds of industries that cannot be “sent offshore,” including space research and development, safety and security, and supply chain applications enabling same-day shipping.

The discussion included a detailed look at the economics of manufacturing, how robots reduce the impact of costs in areas where the U.S. is less competitive (such as taxes and cost of capital), how robots help the U.S. compete internationally and to reshore jobs.

Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation, explained that robotics will create up to 1.5 million jobs between now and 2016, up to 100,000 of which will be in the manufacturing of service robots. He also noted that the food industry will employ up to 80,000 people in jobs related to robotics, wind power up to 10,000, electric vehicles up to 50,000 and new consumer electronics up to 200,000.

The Advisory Committee of the Congressional Robotics Caucus was formed to increase general awareness of challenges and issues among members of Congress and policy analysts; as well as educate members of Congress and congressional staff on current and future research and development, and utilization initiatives.